HP High Court’s landmark judgment brings huge relief to children with disabilities
Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. It took years of fight for the rights of children with disabilities, but Ajai Shrivastva finally made the High Court hear the grievances of children with special needs. Court also awarded the NGO with Rs. 100,000 to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children.
SHIMLA- The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in a landmark judgement, has directed the Himachal Pradesh Government to provide free education to the students with disabilities up to university level. The court has also enhanced the amount of their scholarship.
Now Himachal Pradesh will become the first state in the country to ensure absolutely free education. As per the disability law in India the disabled students have right to get free education up to the age of 18 years only. Now thousands of poor students with disability will be benefitted in Himachal Pradesh and the State Government is directed by the Court to enact law for the purpose within six months.
This historic judgement was delivered by the division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, taking suo motto cognizance of a letter written by Ajai Srivastava, Honorary Chairman of Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust, and a noted disability rights activist on the plight of disabled students to the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court in July 2011. The Court also awarded Rs. one lac to the Umang Foundation to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children. The Court also granted various other relives to the disabled students.
The Bench observed,
“It is their (the disabled) fundamental right and basic human right to be housed, protected with all basic amenities, i.e. food, clothing, special health care, provision for compulsory and free education and avenues for employment.”
The Judges also said,
The advanced society is the one which is sensitive towards the children with special needs. It is our fundamental duty to show them path and to preserve their dignity and respect. All efforts should be made to assimilate them in the main stream and there should not be feeling amongst the disabled children that they are left alone on lonely island.
The court directed the H.P. University and other two State Universities to make necessary amendments in the respective ordinances and prospectus for providing free education to the disabled students. The court also directed the H.P. State Public Service Commission and H.P .Subordinate Service Selection Board to amend their regulations accordingly within a period of six months.
The Judges said,
It is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children with special needs up to University level and all the professional courses in all the educational institutions under Articles 21/ 21 –A of the Constitution of India. It is also the duty of the State to provide financial support to these children by increasing their scholarships, stipends from time to time taking into consideration the price rise/ inflation under Article 41 of the Constitution of India.
With these observations, the judges made a direction to the Government to enhance scholarships for the disabled hostellers and day scholars.
Emphasizing the need to provide latest assistive technology to the blind students to “hone their skills to be self dependent”, the court ordered to provide screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech (TTS)software, optical character recognition (OCR)software, large monitors, hand held magnifiers and standalone reading machines to them.
The court censured the State Government for the short comings in the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The Bench said, “The Himachal Pradesh University, H.P. Board of School Education, Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, H.P. Agriculture University, Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission and H.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board have failed to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per Section 31 of PWD Act, 1995.” It directed them to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per the law.
In the judgement, the Court took a strong exception of not filling the posts of teaching faculties in the Government’s Special School for blind and deaf girls at Sundernagar and Special School for blind and deaf boys at Dhalli, Shimla run by H.P. State Council for Child Welfare and said,
Ordinarily the Court cannot issues direction for sanctioning and creation of posts, but extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures.
It directed to create and fill up various posts of teachers and other supporting staff on regular basis in the two Special Schools within six months.
However, considering the attitude of Government towards high court’s many other directions given in past, it’s really hard to believe that HP government will be able to implement anything in six-months. It’s the judiciary that has passed a highly kind judgement, but implementation lies in the hands of the same MLAs and government officials who had been ignoring the grievance of children with disabilities all these years. Our government lacks will to serve the public as well as people who are willful to serve.
Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. Not just children with disabilities but the NGO has been fighting for the rights of destitute women and mentally ill inmates of Home for Destitute Women in Mashobara. On a number of occasions, Ajai Shrivastva has come ahead to help people in need.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.